Debate Magazine

Why The Tea Party Sucks

By Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg

Tea PartyFor those of you who wondered if I was a raging conservative after reading my review of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, I present my counter argument in which I tell you why I think the Tea Party sucks just as badly.

As opposed to OWS, I find the Tea Party rather effective.  They seem to have gotten their act together as a grass roots movement that is having a big impact on the Republican party.  What I find distasteful about them is their mix of economic and religious policies.

Economic Policies

I actually agree with the tea party premise of small government.  I think that many of our government’s policies and organizations may have had good intent behind them, but they’ve been implemented poorly by government officials more concerned with getting reelected than with making tough decisions.  Also, the sheer complexity of our system now means that anyone without a lot of resources behind them finds it difficult to get anything done.

As an example, I’ve tried to launch a high tech start up and patenting an idea was an incredibly arcane process which seemed counter intuitive and not really set up to protect inventors.  I’m sure the idea of patents was a great one long ago and intended to protect the little guy, but it’s having the opposite effect now as small time inventors find themselves buried under legal paperwork.

So mark me as a supporter of small government (I typically vote libertarian).  However, what prevents me from being a tea party supporter is their mix of small government with evangelical Christian beliefs.

So You Hate Religion?

Not at all.  Yes, I am an atheist, but I respect everyone’s beliefs.  I am not one of those atheists who believe someone is stupid because they believe in a greater power.  I won’t disrespect you because we don’t believe in the same thing.  If you wish to believe, all the more power to you.  Unfortunately, the tea party wishes to enact laws based on their beliefs and that’s something I will never agree with.

Belief Versus Fact

I have beliefs.  I hold certain things to be true and based on this I construct my version of morality and ethics.  However, I know that this is a subjective thing.  These are MY beliefs, MY morality and MY ethics.  I do not believe that anyone does or must share them.  I may discuss them with with people and I may try to explain why I believe in these things but this belief is still subjective.

The tea party discusses these religious beliefs as though they are objective beliefs that everyone can and must share.  They have mixed these ideas in with their economic and political agenda and that’s something I find extremely distasteful.

Morality Has No Place In Government

One of the things I admire the most about our country is separation of church and state.  I would actually take this further if I had my way.  I would completely separate government from morality of any kind.  Any law which is based on morality is flawed because that morality is subjective.  It cannot be proven and it isn’t shared among all people in the nation.  That would include laws such as the Defense of Marriage act, blue laws (laws governing when you can buy alcohol), hate crime legislation, affirmative action and others.  All of these laws try to legislate what is right, moral and fair.  That’s a wonderful purpose but it’s utter bullshit in its implementation because what is right and fair to me may not be what what’s right and fair to other people.

I believe in laws that advance the welfare of our country.  I believe in laws that improve our society in some kind of objective, measurable way.  I believe in laws that can be argued and are based on reasoning that is clear.  I don’t want laws based on “fairness” or “morality”.  These are nebulous things that we can never agree on.

Let me give you an example; affirmative action.  If you tell me that you want to provide opportunities to minorities based on past discrimination I will call you an idiot.  Why is this law good?  Is a Hispanic man who grew up in a rich South American family more deserving of a scholarship than a poor white man?  Is a black woman more deserving than an Asian one?  Who decides this and based on what?  Is there some kind of “victim” scale I am not aware of that can accurately measure how much your ancestors were oppressed and discriminated against?

However, if you were to tell me that you want to improve the overall education level in the US by providing children from poor family (as defined by a certain income level) with a 10% advantage in test scores (their 1200 on the SAT would count as 1320 for example) and make scholarships available to them that would be something I can get behind.  We can argue about the percentage and the income level, we can also discuss some kind of graduated percentage and scholarship for those people slightly above the income level but at least this is objective.  It doesn’t rely on some nebulous concept for implementation.

The same applies with right wing favorites like abortion.  If you believe a baby is human at the point of conception because that is what your religion preaches, that’s wonderful for you and I respect that.  If you try to use this as the basis for a federal law, you’re no friend of mine.  If you believe a fetus should be respected at the point at which it shows brain activity because that’s a similar metric to what we use to measure death in adult, well, that we can discuss and you may even be able to convince me.  Certainly I’m no expert on fetuses or the medical definition of life.

All I’m saying is, wisely choose your metrics based on what is objective versus what is subjective and always remember that morality may seem obviously right to you, but it’s still YOUR morality and may not be shared by everyone.

“Life Begins At Conception” Is Not Objective

And this then is my problem with the tea party.  They have taken some objective concepts (small government, fiscal cutbacks) and mixed them with subjective topics (abortion, gay marriage).  Why?  You will never convince me and by trying to force these issues you will only make me believe you’re a bunch of fanatics.  Sure, some tea party folks seem a bit more reasonable, but some OWS seem more action oriented too.  For the most part, the tea party seems to have backed itself into a right wing evangelical corner from which it can never emerge.

And by the way, I apply this rule to everyone, not just the tea party.  I will respect your beliefs and the morality that they create in you.  However, the moment you try to convince me that this morality is subjective and should be obvious to me, you’ve crossed into the realm of stupidity.  Subjective items cannot be the basis of an argument.  ”I believe this is right”, “I believe this is fair” and “I believe this is the right moral choice” are great reasons for you to believe, but they’re meaningless to me.  Find a better argument.


And if right now you’re thinking to yourself, “well, this country was founded on Christian ideals so we’re right and you should just find yourself a different country”, I’d like to point out to you that even among Christians you will find completely different systems of beliefs and morality.  You may want to look at the protestant revolution, the conflict in Ireland and the recent schisms over gay priests and think for just one moment about how much you’d enjoy living in a land where laws are based on the morality of the majority…

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By TechnoCowgirl
posted on 15 November at 15:51
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_Wonderful read!!! I am a conservative and a believer in a higher power, but you are absolutely right in your logic -morality and ethics are a matter of individual perception and self-comfort. There is little right or wrong in ethics (with exception to child rape, and cold blooded murder), and morals are cultural in nature; what we are taught, family, society, church, state, influence, and the like shape each of our beliefs, values, and morals -that does not make them right for everyone. Government should leave morality to those with a conscience! _